What is the Difference Between a Civil and Criminal Case Involving the Florida Wrongful Death of a Child?


In Florida and other States, day care centers are responsible for the health, education, safety, and well being of children enrolled in the program. Being a child care provider is among the most important jobs in the community. While it may not be the highest paying position, it is nonetheless a vital position to be responsible for the safety of children. Tragically, children die at day care centers or while under the care of day care centers. One would assume that a day care center is a safe place for children and that the day care center staff is well trained and attentive to the needs of the children. While this is true and accurate in most instances, there are still far too many children who are seriously injured or even die as a result of the negligence or carelessness of the day care center staff charged with the responsibility to supervise the children. When a child dies at a day care center as a result of the fault or negligence of the staff, there may be a case pursued against the owner, individual, and the facility. There are two basic types of cases that can be pursued: 1. Criminal Case 2. Civil Case

1. Criminal Case. If a day care worker, employee, or owner violated a law, the local police and State Attorney’s office could pursue criminal charges against the person. The decisions to file and then follow through with a criminal prosecution are left in the hands of State and local authorities. While a parent of a child victim can have input in these matters, the parent does not control the ultimate arrest and filing decisions by the government authorities. On a case by case basis, restitution or compensation may be awarded but this is typically limited to economic damages or expenses. In other words, medical bills may be ordered as part of the criminal case but typically pain and suffering type of damages are not part of the criminal court order or resolution of the criminal matter. The burden of proof in a criminal case in the State of Florida is “beyond a reasonable doubt”.

2. Civil Case. A civil case or claim can be pursued regardless of the filing or outcome of a criminal case. A civil case is not necessarily dependent on the criminal case; however, evidence and testimony obtained through the criminal case can be helpful to proving and prevailing on the civil case against the day care center and its employees. As a practical matter, there are considerations or factors in a civil case that are somewhat different than a criminal case. For instance, the availability of liability insurance is typically a big concern in a civil case. In most civil cases involving a child who suffered injuries at a day care center, the remedy sought by the parent through a Florida Child Injury Lawyer is compensation. It should be noted that a day care center and its employees can be sued and a big judgment can be obtained against them. However, it is quite a different challenge to collect upon this judgment especially if there is no available liability insurance. The availability or lack of availability of liability insurance is just one factor among many that are part of the evaluation of a Florida Day Care Center case.

The book – Florida Day Care Center Injuries – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – Building Blocks of Knowledge for Parents – has chapters on Indoor Facilities, Outdoor Facilities, Emergency Procedures, Documentation, and other matters. You can get this book for free at Florida Day Care Center Injuries Book.